The Musso Rebel’s four-cylinder in-line turbocharged engine delivers its max power at 4,000rpm. Maximum torque of 400Nm makes its presence felt across a wide 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm plateau.
Four-wheel drive is selectable. Power is delivered permanently to the rear wheels and can be supplemented with drive to the front wheels as and when required, with a high- and a low-ratio set of gears to choose from.
You fire up the engine with a push-button starter, which obliges you to have the key fob ready to hand – not an arrangement the writer particularly likes.
A button next to the shift lever allows you to switch to either an Eco or a Power setting. The former is the default setting and is supposed to keep fuel usage under control. However, the performance limits it imposes aren’t all that onerous unless you are heavily laden. The latter delivers more rapid acceleration and comes in handy if you need to overtake slower-moving traffic and can do so safely.
Also available is a Winter setting. Switching to it means that the Rebel always moves away in second gear to prevent any slippage.
No matter which setting you pick, power is delivered smoothly and you barely notice as the transmission slides from one gear to the next.
You can switch to a manual setting and use a button on the side of the shift lever to change gear, but most drivers are likely to leave the box in automatic mode while on the highway. The ability to go manual could come in handy, however, if you are off-road and ploughing through mud.
Although based in South Korea, Ssangyong is majority-owned by Indian engineering group Mahindra & Mahindra. It also owns Italian automotive design house Pininfarina, which assisted with the Musso’s engineering. Ssangyong enlisted it to help tune out NVH – noise, vibration and harshness – and its efforts have borne fruit. In-cab noise levels are seldom intrusive.
The Musso handles well – the power-assisted steering tightens up nicely as you surge through bends – but its ride can be a touch ragged over uneven surfaces, especially when it is lightly laden.
To engage 4WD you twist a knob between the front seats, then twist it again for the low-ratio set of gears,
Several days of dry weather meant that our forays off-road around the backwoods of Herefordshire were accompanied by clouds of dust rather than flying mud. The Musso acquitted itself well, however, in what was admittedly not terribly demanding terrain, chugging up dried-up embankments and down the other side without breaking sweat, and without the need to go low-ratio.
If the off-road going gets rough then it is worth noting that there are grab handles above each of the doors, and on the B pillars for the outboard rear passengers to cling to as the truck bounces around. A ceiling-mounted handle ought to be provided for the middle occupant of the rear seat who has nothing to cling to at all.